NNA supports July legislation to permit nonprofit status for newspapers

Tonda Rush

Jul 1, 2019

On June 7, the National Newspaper Association applauded introduction of legislation that would make it easier for publishers to convert their newspapers to nonprofit status if they choose. The bill, the Saving Local Newspapers Act, by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-California, would clarify that publishing can be an acceptable purpose under nonprofit tax rules. It would also allow advertising revenues to support a nonprofit operation without being taxed as unrelated business income.

NNA president Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County Pionier, Mayville, Wisconsin, said the bill would increase publishers’ options as they examine ways to keep newspapers running in a challenging economic environment.

“NNA realizes that not-for-profit status is not the solution for many newspapers, but we are aware that some publishers have looked into the possibility,” Johnson said. “While getting the IRS sanction does not solve the need for sustaining revenues, it does open the door for charitable giving by those in a community who want to keep good journalism alive in their towns. We see Congressman DeSaulnier’s idea as one of several that may appeal to publishers in the future, and we appreciate his interest in our industry.”

DeSaulnier said:

“Local journalism has been a bedrock of American society for over 200 years. I remember when dedicated reporters sat in the front row of city council meetings to keep communities informed and to increase accountability. Today many local newspapers are dying out — penny pinching until they close or are bought up and sold off piecemeal by hedge funds. This bill would allow papers to renew their focus on quality content and flourish unencumbered by ever-increasing demands for greater profits.”

The bill summary is available at http://bit.ly/2J4arjU.